The Primera Division of the Spanish La Liga often takes a back seat to the English Premier League, but with the top two players in the world and two of the richest and most powerful clubs there’s no need to. Any league that can field stars such as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is bound to be one of the strongest and most popular in the world.
In reality, the Primera Division is usually a two-horse race between Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have all the money, power, and the league’s best players. This is why it was a shock to the nation last season when Atletico Madrid edged past this pair of powerhouses to capture the league title. Of course, Barcelona and Madrid are arch enemies and fans should expect to see them once again battling it out for first place this season. These two sides have had a stranglehold on Spanish soccer for many years now and that’s expected to continue.
With the Spanish league just kicking off now’s a good time to take a look at some of the most-interesting teams.
- bet365 odds to win outright – 4/5
- Real Madrid is known as Los Blancos and they slumped all the way to third place last season. However, they made up for it by being crowned the champions of Europe when they beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 in the Champions League final. Real is evenly matched with Barcelona in the pitch and a touch ahead of them off of it since they’re recognized as the world’s most valuable sports franchise. Real hosts a bevy of superstars such as Ronaldo, James Rodriguez of Colombia, Gareth Bale of Wales, and Frenchman Karim Benzema.
- bet365 odds to win outright – 5/4
- Barcelona FC came in second last season and wasn’t able to win any major trophies. The club is actually owned by supporters and is tied with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys for being the second-most valuable sports franchise on the planet at $3.2 billion. It’s believed it’s the most-followed sports team on the globe. Needless to say, they can afford to buy just about any player who comes on the market. However, they also take the time to develop skilled youngsters in their own youth academy . Over the years Barcelona has racked up 22 league championships, 26 Copa del Rey cups, and 11 Spanish Supercopa trophies. The team features stars such as Messi, Suarez, Brazilian forward Neymar, and Spanish international Xavi.
- bet365 odds to win outright – 14/1
- Atletico is nicknamed Los Colchoneros and they caused quite a stir last season by winning the league and making it all the way to the final of the Champions League. When it comes to money though, Atletico can’t compete with Real Madrid and Barcelona. This is why they were more or less forced to reshuffle their lineup during the offseason after selling several players. The two losses that will hurt them the most are Spanish international striker Diego Costa and Belgian international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. In addition manager Diego Simeone will have to sit out the first eight games of the season as he was banned for his actions in a Supercopa game against Real Madrid in the preseason. Atletico managed to win the Cup 2-1 on aggregate in the two-game series.
- bet365 odds to win outright – 100/1
- Valencia managed to reach eighth place in the 2013/14 campaign. They last won the league title a decade ago and the club has a reputation of developing numerous skilled players. Over the years the team has included stars such as David Villa, Juan Mata, Roberto Soldado, and David Silva. But like many Spanish, they don’t have the financial depth to hang onto them. Their huge debts led to the selling of all these players to various European clubs. They still have enough talent left over to finish in the top eight again this season.
Athletic Club Bilbao
- bet365 odds to win outright – 200/1
- Athletic Bilbao is nicknamed Los Leones and they finished fourth in the league last season. The club is unique since it only signs players who have Basque roots. The Basque region lies in northern Spain and this policy gives hope to players from that region. However, it’s viewed as being narrow-minded and quite restrictive by many fans. Athletic Bilbao won’t challenge for the title in 2014/15, but could do well in Europe.
- bet365 odds to win outright – 200/1
- Sevila ended up in fifth place last campaign and is recognized as Spain’s second-oldest soccer club. However, they haven’t managed to capture the league crown since way back in 1946. Things will be tougher this season since their top player Ivan Rakitic was sold to Barcelona during the offseason. The team has some good talent with the likes of Iago Aspas, Ever Banega, Kevin Gameiro, and Gerard Deulofeu. Look for Sevilla to finish bout fifth place in 2014/15.
- bet365 odds to win outright – 5000/1
- Eibar were promoted into the Primera Division at the end of last season. They’re nicknamed Los Armeros, which basically translates to the Gunners. Eibar has been promoted in two successive seasons now after toiling in Spain’s third division Two years ago. The entire 27,000 population of Eibar could fit about three times over into the stadiums of Real Madrid and Barcelona, so this will be a huge jump up in class for the team. Eibar is one of the few Spanish clubs that is debt-free. However, there’s a good chance they’ll be demoted back into the second division at the end of the season unless their players perform well over their heads. The team’s stadium holds slightly more than 5,000 people and while they may be financially afloat, they simply don’t have the funds to last long in the top division much longer than a year or two.
Unfortunately, since the 20-team Primera Division is a case of the haves and the have-nots, many teams are quite similar to each other and you could basically flip a coin to see which squads will finish in the bottom half of the league.
Here is the complete list of teams, along with bet365’s odds to win the league outright:
- Real Madrid 4/5
- Barcelona FC 5/4
- Atletico Madrid 14/1
- Valencia 100/1
- Athletic Bilbao 200/1
- Sevilla 200/1
- Villarreal 250/1
- Real Sociedad 250/1
- Celta Vigo 1000/1
- Getafe 1500/1
- Malaga 1500/1
- Espanyol 2000/1
- Grenada 2000/1
- Deportivo La Coruna 2000/1
- Levante 2000/1
- Rayo Vallecano 2500/1
- Elche 3000/1
- Almería 5000/1
- Eibar 5000/1
- Cordoba 7500/1
By Ian Palmer
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